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Review

The Raconteurs rock out with new release

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April 10, 2008

If reality had a say, The Raconteurs should have crumbled in 2006 with their glam-pop debut, “Broken Boy Soldiers.” Think about it. Garage rock bluesy master Jack White joining forces with the power pop of Brendan Benson and complimented by Yardbirds—inspired Patrick Keeler and Jack Lawrence of The Greenhornes isn’t normally an equation for success. But formula is obsolete-the Raconteurs don’t follow rules, they make their own.

“Consolers of the Lonely,” their latest album, does just that. Announced a little under a week before its release, The Raconteurs surprised everyone with a swift collaboration, recording the album in early March and releasing it later that month.

“The music business is so scared all the time, and I don’t like living in fear like that,” White said a few days after the album hit stores.

How’s that for unformulated?

Unusual releases or not, music makes the band, and on “Consolers of the Lonely” it succeeds, depending on which way you lean. If you prefer the raw power of White’s stripped and dirty version of the blues (like I do), you’ll dig the guitar slides country vibe on “Top Yourself.” Not your thing? Go for Benson’s “Many Shades of Black,” a heart-breaker with mariachi trumpets and one of Benson’s best ever.

What you may not like is when the two take on the persona of each other. Don’t misunderstand: Benson clearly feeds off White when he shouts “I found myself just looking right behind my best intentions / Ignoring any kind of prize I might receive at all / Why all I seem to find is wrong kind of satisfaction / I find a ridicule that isn’t cool for me at all,” on the power rock “Salute Your Solution,” and vice versa, White eats up Benson’s tenderness as he sings harmony on the barnyard jam “Old Enough.”

“The Switch and the Spur” is a tale of an “appaloosa and a wanted man” springing from jail. That’s it. Add in soaring trumpets, piano and echoed guitars and you have something really special. As far as myths go, rarely are they spoken like “Carolina Drama.”  I won’t spoil it, but deceit and murder are afloat within a dysfunctional family that surprises and stings. When all is done, White ends it, “Well now you know every side to the story but you want to know how it ends / If you must know the truth about the tale, go and ask the milk man.”

Matthew Loosbrock is a student at UW-River Falls.